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Altitude: 2527 m/8,213 ft, Population: approximately 400,000, City Code: 2

Located atop a plateau surrounded by verdant hills to the east and Volcán Galeras to the west, Pasto is 88 kilometers (54 mi) from the Ecuador border, on the Pan-American Highway. This capital of Nariño Department is a pleasant place to spend a few days. With impressive churches, architecture, museums and nearby villages to explore and natural reserves only several hours away, there is something for everyone’s taste. Strolling through the streets, you can soon see why Pasto is nicknamed “La Ciudad de los Balcones”—The City of Balconies. Fine woodworking in many styles decorates these personal vantage points over the narrow colonial streets.

If you can, come in time for the city’s renowned Black and White Carnival, celebrated in January—but wear your oldest clothes, like the locals do. It’s said to be quite a messy party. This Carnival is a time when people celebrate ethnic and social diversity, which has given it UNESCO recognition as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Pasto identifies itself culturally more with northern Ecuador than Colombia; during colonial times, trade routes connected this city with population centers further south.

Neighborhoods in Pasto: Near Pasto,

Other places nearby Pasto: Parque Nacional Puracé, San Agustín, Popayán, Ipiales and Tierradentro.

By Lorraine Caputo

Upon re-declaring her independence at age 29, Lorraine Caputo packed her trusty Rocinante (so her knapsack's called) and began...

23 Sep 2011

VIVA Colombia

Top Restaurants in Pasto

Integrales Pan y Salud

Integrales Pan y Salud is the only option for vegetarians in downtown Pasto — and unfortunately, only at lunchtime. The midday meal comes with soup, the main plate (with gluten or beans, salad and ...
Pasto, Colombia

Tienda del Café del Parque

Tienda del Café del Parque is a salute to Nariñense coffee and culture. The only coffee it serves is organically grown from Nariño Department, in a two-story shop that itself is a work of art, ...
Pasto, Colombia

Restaurant, Hotel Manhattan

You don’t have to be a guest to enjoy one of the good meals the women whip up at the Hotel Manhattan. The restaurant is located in the large, skylighted patio. With a smile, they’ll serve you a ...
Pasto, Colombia
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